2005 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor - Tunisia

Selected Child Labor Measures Adopted by Governments
Ratified Convention 138     10/19/1995
Ratified Convention 182     2/28/2000
ILO-IPEC Member 
National Plan for Children
National Child Labor Action Plan 
Sector Action Plan 

Incidence and Nature of Child Labor

Statistics on the number of working children under age 15 in Tunisia are unavailable.4687 Children work in agriculture in rural areas and as vendors in urban areas, mainly during school vacations.4688 There are also reports of children working in the handicraft industry in apprenticeships and of families placing teenage girls as household domestics, although this practice has reportedly declined through enforcement of laws on minimum work age and compulsory school attendance.4689 Child labor is one of many problems associated with poverty. In 2000, less than 2 percent of the population of Tunisia were living on less than USD 1 a day.4690

Education is compulsory and free between the ages of 6 and 16.4691 In 2002, the gross primary enrollment rate was 111 percent and the net primary enrollment rate was 97 percent.4692 Gross and net enrollment ratios are based on the number of students formally registered in primary school and therefore do not necessarily reflect actual school attendance. Attendance in urban areas is higher than in rural areas (97.2 percent and 90.5 percent respectively).4693 Primary school attendance statistics are not available for Tunisia.4694 As of 2001, 96 percent of children who started primary school were likely to reach grade 5.4695

Child Labor Laws and Enforcement

The Labor Code of 1966 sets the minimum age for employment at 16 years, which coincides with the country's compulsory education requirement. There are some exceptions to this age, however.4696

Children may work as apprentices or through vocational training programs at age 14.4697 Furthermore, children under 16 years of age may work in family-run businesses as long as the work does not interfere with school, pose a threat to the child's health, exceed 2 hours per day, or exceed 7 hours per day when combined with time spent in school.4698 In regard to nonagricultural jobs, the code also prohibits children under 14 from working at night, between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m., and prohibits children 14 to 18 years of age from working between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. For agricultural work, the code states that children under 18 years must have fixed rest periods and cannot work between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.4699 The Labor Code establishes 18 years as the minimum age for hazardous work and authorizes the Ministry of Social Affairs to determine the jobs that fall in this category.4700 Young workers in the non-agricultural sector under the age of 18 cannot be paid a salary below 85 percent of the salary paid to adults.4701 Labor inspectors from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Solidarity are responsible for enforcing labor laws, including child labor laws.4702

Since 1999, the Government of Tunisia has submitted to the ILO a list or an equivalent document identifying the types of work that it has determined are harmful to the health, safety or morals of children under Convention 182 or Convention 138.4703

The worst forms of child labor may be prosecuted under different statutes in Tunisia. Forced and bonded labor by children is prohibited by law, and there are no reports of such practices.4704 In 1995, the Government of Tunisia passed the Child Protection Code, which protects children under 18 years from abuse and exploitation, including participation in wars or armed conflicts, prostitution, and hazardous labor conditions.4705 The government's Child Protection Code is enforced by a corps of delegates in charge of child protection in the country's 24 governorates.4706 In addition, two ministries, the Ministry of Women's, Family, Child and Elderly Affairs, and the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Physical Education are responsible for enforcing children's rights.4707 According to the U.S. Department of State, the Government of Tunisia upheld the standards of ILO Convention 182 and enacted regulations on "the worst forms of child labor" and "hazardous" work. Inspectors from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Solidarity verified employers' compliance with the minimum age law.4708 There have been no reports of international or domestic trafficking of Tunisian children.4709

Current Government Policies and Programs to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor

The Government of Tunisia's policies aim to protect children through enforcement of relevant laws and to create jobs for adults so that children can attend school.4710

In 2004, the World Bank approved a USD 130 million loan for the second phase of an Education Quality Improvement Project designed to facilitate the Ministry of Education's efforts to promote primary and secondary education.4711 This project aims to boost school enrollment and completion rates for children ages 6 to 18 years, and to develop stronger links between secondary education and vocational training and higher education institutions.4712 Along with other countries participating in the Third Arab Congress on Children's Rights, Tunisia is implementing a 2004-2015 plan to promote quality education and healthy development for boys and girls and committed to share lessons among countries.4713

4687 This statistic is not available from the data sources that are used in this report. Please see the "Data Sources and Definitions" section of this report for information about sources used. Reliable data on the worst forms of child labor are especially difficult to collect given the often hidden or illegal nature of the worst forms, such as the use of children in the illegal drug trade, prostitution, pornography, and trafficking. As a result, statistics and information on children's work in general are reported in this section. Such statistics and information may or may not include the worst forms of child labor. For more information on the definition of working children and other indicators used in this report, please see the "Data Sources and Definitions" section.

4688 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2004: Tunisia, February 28, 2005; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41733.htm.

4689 Ibid. See also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2003: Tunisia, February 25, 2004; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2003/27939.htm.

4690 World Bank, World Development Indicators 2005 [CD-ROM], Washington, D.C., 2005.

4691 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2004: Tunisia, Section 5. See also UN, Country Profiles on the Situation of Youth: Tunisia, [database online] [cited May 20, 2004]; available from http://esa.un.org/socdev/unyin/countrya.asp?countrycode=tn.

4692 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, http://stats.uis.unesco.org/TableViewer/tableView.aspx?ReportId=51 (Gross and Net Enrollment Ratios, Primary; accessed December 2005). For an explanation of gross primary enrollment rates that are greater than 100 percent, please see the definition of gross primary enrollment rates in the "Data Sources and Definitions" section of this report.

4693 Government of Tunisia, Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) Report: Tunisia, UNICEF, 2000; available from http://www.childinfo.org/MICS2/newreports/tunisia/tunisia.pdf.

4694 This statistic is not available from the data sources that are used in this report. Please see the "Data Sources and Definitions" section for information about sources used.

4695 UNESCO Institute for Statistics, http://stats.uis.unesco.org/TableViewer/tableView.aspx?ReportId=55 (School life expectancy, % of repeaters, survival rates; accessed December 2005).

4696 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2004: Tunisia, Section 6d. See also Government of Tunisia, Code du Travail, 1966, Loi no. 66-27, (April 30, 1966); available from hard copy on file.

4697 Code du Travail, Article 53-2.

4698 Ibid., Article 54.

4699 Ibid., Articles 65, 66, 74.

4700 Ibid., Article 58. See also U.S. Embassy – Tunis, reporting, August 11, 2003.

4701 ILO NATLEX National Labor Law Database, http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/natlex_browse.home (Décret no 2003-1691 du 18 aout 2003 fixant le salaire minimum interprofessionel garanti dans les secteurs non agricoles régis par le Code du travail, accessed June 3, 2005).

4702 Code du Travail, Articles 170-171.

4703 ILO-IPEC official, email communication to USDOL official, November 14, 2005.

4704 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2004: Tunisia, Section 6c.

4705 Government of Tunisia, Loi No. 95-92, 1995, Relative a la publication du code de la protection de l'enfant, (November 9, 1995); available from http://www.ilo.org/dyn/natlex/docs/WEBTEXT/42904/64989/F95TUN01.htm.

4706 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2002: Tunisia, March 31, 2003; available from http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2002/18290.htm. See also Tunisie.com, Action Sociale: Protection de l'enfance, May 14, 2004 [cited March 11, 2004]; available from http://www.tunisie.com/societe/action/html.

4707 U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2004: Tunisia, Section 5.

4708 Ibid., Section 6d.

4709 Ibid., Section 5. See also U.S. Embassy – Tunis, reporting, March 9, 2004.

4710 U.N. Information Center in Tunis, Le Comité des Droits de l'Enfant examine le deuxième rapport périodique de la Tunisie, May 28, 2002; available from http://www.onu.org.tn/enfantun.htm.

4711 World Bank, Tunisia: World Bank Supports Efforts to Improve Teaching, Learning in Schools, March 10, 2004 [cited May 14, 2004]; available from http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/NEWS/0,contentMDK:20175801~men… 03012~theSitePK:4607,00.html.

4712 Ibid.

4713 Management Systems International, Technical Progress Report. Project Adros. Combatting Child Labor Through Education in Morocco, Rabat, March 31, 2004.


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